Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tempest in a Gimlet Glass: Brooklyn Blogfest 5 - Aftermath

The sh*tstorm over Brooklyn Blogfest 5's inclusion of a brand name alcoholic beverage maker and a famous film director who is shilling for it rages on.

The issue now appears to focus on Atlantic Yards Report and the Brownstoner's "revelations" on some additional behind-the-blogs marketing hustling that the liquor company was engaging in, offering what are ostensibly trinkets ($129 flip cameras) and invites-to-yet-other-"VIP"-marketing events, for some cross-promotional posts on "Stoop" life.  As Jerry Seinfeld might sardonically say, "Really?"  When I heard the brand name booze producer was involved, I imagined that Louise Crawford, after years of  hard work building the Blogfest from the ground up largely out of her own pocket, had finally hit a pay day with a major sponsor. Good for her. But in a couple of wrenching posts at Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, Louise makes it clear that, if in fact Brooklyn Blogfest had "Sold out," it clearly "sold out" for very little: Mostly some (not all) ot the refreshments, the booze, and some (not all) of the operating expenses. There was no golden ticket here, more like a co-sponsorship, which, due to the high profile of Mr. Lee, did seem to muddy the focus of this year's event. Face it, Spike Lee is a big draw. Even the "chachkas" offered to some of the bloggers involved in the event, or for cross promotional posts on the Absolut website, sounded like little more than higher-end gift bag items. Kidstuff.

I think Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn has said enough, made enough mea culpas, for not really doing anything wrong as far as I can see. And stop knocking your sponsor -- you don't have to make these declarations about not liking the product or not being partial to that form of beverage. You really don't have to prove anything. Blogfest 5, in all of its occasionally interesting moments and imperfektions is proof enough. You gave a party and we came. And we didnt even have to pay admission this year. That was a pretty cool arrangement. (En passant, I feel like mentioning, although I don't have to, that I had a "value meal" at The Gate before I arrived, so, regrettably I wasn't in tune with vodka but I might try it at some point.) So, not that there wasn't a story in this, but it sounded more like something from the NY Times business page or the WSJ, not an actual succes de scandale. If you are largely a Mom and Pop not-for-profit event, and you decide to make a corporate arrangement, you have stepped across a threshhold. No doubt there were additional deals. But the Blogfest is just an informal get together, a gathering of the tribes and wannabes. Who cares if there was a little (apparently very little) sponsorship behind it. But you have to wonder-- was Atlantic Yards' action in breaking the story the way it did more of a McCarthy-esque litmus test --"Have you now or have you ever accepted a proclamation from a Borough President who has supported a controversial and unpopular-with-the-local-community development project in downtown Brooklyn?"  Who planted that story with Atlantic Yards? It was unfairly portrayed as malfesance, when, in fact, Brownstoner and Atlantic Yards appeared to be stirring the pot for their own reasons. A reaction to OTBKB and the Brooklyn Blogfest daring to stick its toe in the corporate waters?  To quote from the Army-McCarthy hearings -- "Have you no shame, sir?" And Brownstoner --not that I really care, but does that blog wish to share its fiscal spreadsheets with the public? Will this peculiar contretemps result in a new focus on full disclosure of the financials of all "monetized" blogs? We pretty much have an idea from Ms Crawford's posts that OTBKB and Brooklyn Blogfest are amateurs and relatively inexperienced when it comes to "selling out." But malfeasant? C'mon. Let the monetized blog that is without sin, etc...

I am sure Brooklyn Blogfest has been suitably chastened by this brouhaha and next year it will be back to donated sixpacks and local Asian fusion food only with a $50 admission charge. Too bad, but I wouldn't blame Louise at all...
--Brooklyn Beat

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  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
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  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
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